May 29, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Measure A Campaign in Full Swing:

As endorsements for Measure A are popping up city-wide, taxpayer support is still uncertain. The emergency parcel tax is just one of many attempts to fill a widening budget gap for Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.Measure A calls for a $198-per-parcel tax, which would raise about $5.8 million for the district. It will appear May 25 in a special mail-in ballot election for registered voters. Voters must approve the measure by a two-thirds majority, which leaves no room from error for supporters with such a high threshold.In the fall, school officials project dire results without Measure A in the face of a decreasing budget. The projected $14.5 million fall deficit means faculty will take five furlough days in order to save the budget $2 million. The district foresees a possible $8.7 million in budget cuts this fall to handle the $30 billion in reduced funding from the state. The district has already drained half of the $20 million reserve funds to feed deficit this school year. The Santa Monica-Malibu Parent Teacher Council sent out emails informing voters that 75 of the 580 teachers in the district could be given

“pink-slips” due to budget cuts. Teachers had to be informed of the lay-offs by March 15, according to state law. Some teachers will be able to return to their jobs if the measure is passed. Measure A will continue for five years. Funds raised will cover about half the deficit in the fall budget. Debate Rises on Both Sides

SMMUSD released rebuttal arguments with signatures citing support and opposition from major contenders in the city. Both original and rebuttal arguments for both sides will be sent out with the mail-in ballots April 26.

To support Measure A, signatures appeared from the president of Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs, SMMUSD’s Financial Oversight Committee and Pico Youth and Family Center. In opposition are Pico Neighborhood residents Pierce Watson, Art Casillas and James McPherson.

PTA President Shari Davis said to The Mirror that parents are concerned not only about losing faculty, but of cuts in “extra” programs such as music. Davis called the budget cuts “a blow to the heart of education.”

“Measure A is an investment in our community and makes sure our schools stay in our community,” Davis said. “If you have a decline in quality, it is very hard to recover. When you think about a child and all the things they are supposed to learn, each year is precious. Each year is a progression from the last.”

Davis, who has three children in the Santa Monica Schools, said the measure is very thought out and researched. The measure provides an exemption for senior homeowners over the age of 65. A citizen oversight committee will be in place to conduct annual audits and recommendations to the BOE.

Ian Shen, a homeowner in Santa Monica since 2000, does not see Measure A as the unequivocal answer. Shen remembers the Measure R campaign, a renewal tax of $346-per-parcel, using the same “scare tactics” in 2008. The district approved Measure R, which combined parcel taxes Measure Y and S in order to extend the funds.

“What really hurts, and I wonder if most homeowners even know, is that Measures S and Y both had sunset dates, 2009 and 2011, respectively, whereas Measure R is indefinite,” Shen said. “They’ve opened an ATM account with the homeowners of Santa Monica and now they want more.”

Opponents say the sweeping tax is not proportionate for businesses that pay the same as homeowners. In addition to the $6 million the City of Santa Monica gives to SMMUSD, the push is for the city to give more money to the district.

The Campaign to Protect Quality Public Schools listed major endorsements from the teacher’s union Santa-Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, and both Santa Monica and Malibu City Councils.

President and CEO of Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, Laurel Rosen said in a press release, the Chamber has “overwhelmingly endorsed Measure A” to aid the district. The Chamber believes the measure will ensure local students continue to receive a strong education at the already “exceptional schools.”

Mirror Contributing

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